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'Story-telling is political'

books Updated: Jan 25, 2011 03:01 IST
Antara Das
Antara Das
Hindustan Times
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After reading her second novel Half of a Yellow Sun, a friend of Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's father told her, "You are a small girl. What do you know about political history? Your father must have written it for you." The book was centred around the Nigeria-Biafra war that took place in 1967-1970. The 33-year-old took it as a compliment. But that telling remark showed the kind of baggage and assumptions a young, female writer carried on her shoulders. "I want to challenge those assumptions, show that a young girl can write political history," she said.

Story-telling is a political act, she says. "When you come to the 'black section' in a bookshop, you get a sense of black writers not yet quite there... As if your novels are not about human beings but only about the politics of your country."

Her nationality, of which she's proud, can also often act as a barrier. While her husband, an American passport-holder, got his Indian visa in two days, it took Chimamanda three weeks to get hers. "Maybe because now that India is an emerging superpower, it needs to show that by making it difficult to get an Indian visa," she quipped.